Notes on the spirit world and the judgment.

My wife was answering a friend’s question and I made some notes addressing what our doctrine says about an individual who died after receiving the gospel covenants, but then falling into serious moral transgression and subsequently dying while in that state and in particularly what we know about them in the spirit world. 
The short answer Diane came up with is probably the best answer: the doctrine of Restoration found in Alma, namely, you cannot be restored from wickedness to happiness. Wickedness never was happiness.

More detail doesn’t change that. The judgement bar isn’t supposed to be a surprise test. Heavenly Father lets us know on what conditions he will give out different judgments because he wants us to receive a good judgement.  So he tells us all about it in advance. I know that some people get all flustered and upset because you are judging if you say that adulterers are going to hell unless they repent just because the scriptures say as much. But the truth is that like Amulek we cannot deny his word – if he says such and such is what happens to adulterers, liars, and whoremongers we have no right to deny such is the case. Our answer should be no different than Amulek’s:

Alma 11:36 Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.
 37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

If you want more detail about the spirit world just out of pure interest you need to realize some things.

Most particularly, the spirit world is NOT where we return to live with Heavenly Father and Christ. Alma says they return to that God who gave them life, but as Brigham Young points out, that isn’t meant to mean they return to where God dwells, and in fact they are in the presence of God in the spirit world in about the same sense we are.

The fact that the spirit world isn’t where the Father and the Son dwell, and is therefore not the celestial kingdom we are promised to be rewarded with is in all sorts of scriptures, if just not always spelled out:

1) Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young said the spirit world is here on this earth
2) D&C 130 points out that the place God dwells is not like this earth but is a giant urim and thummim
3) Christ appears in the spirit world but afterward says to Mary that he has not yet ascended to his Father. By the way, it is also interesting htere that Christ’s appearance in the spirit world sounds like an extraordinary event, not like something that was generally the case there any more than it is here. By the way, his appearance there to Adam and his posterity should be compared to his appearance in mortality to Adam and his posterity at Adam-ondi-Ahman.  

There is a Brigham Young talk that gives more detail about the spirit world than any other writing I am familiar with including D&C 138, which focuses on the Savior’s visit to the spirit world after his death. You can find a lot the relevant content at:

If you read Brigham Young’s talk you will notice that the division of the spirit world into spirit prison and spirit paradise is the same division that exists here. It is not a division of physical location as we often imagine it. In fact, in Lehi’s dream the same division between wicked and righteous is portrayed as existing here in mortality with a great gulf dividing them. The division portayed in Lehi’s dream is very real and is the same division that exists in the spirit world. But it isn’t a division of location here in mortality any more than it is in the spirit world.

Priesthood book excerpt – Women may heal the sick or show signs, but that doesn’t mean they are ordained to the Aaronic or Melchizedek preisthood

What the priesthood is not: It is not required for someone to have the priesthood for the signs that follow those who believe to be exhibited. Some people may not be familiar with Joseph Smith’s plain teachings about this, but they can be found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which was largely compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. He does state that the gift of the Holy Ghost is required for those signs to be manifest. But those signs will still follow faithful members who do not have the priesthood. Some apostates have trying to twist these teachings to mean that women should be ordained to the priesthood. But the teachings are plain enough. They are that when we read “these signs shall follow them that believe” then we should realize that those signs are intended to follow all of Christ’s true followers whether male or female, as they do not require the priesthood, only the gift of the Holy Ghost.
First, let us have Joseph Smith’s instructions which are perfectly true as they stand, but sometimes twisted by apostates to try to get the church to ordain women. Here they are as found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

He said the reason of these remarks being made was, that some little foolish things were circulating in the society, against some sisters not doing right in laying hands on the sick. Said that if the people had common sympathies they would rejoice that the sick could be healed; that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order; that the Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be, until the Temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration of the ordinances of the Priesthood.
President Smith continued the subject, by quoting the commission given to the ancient Apostles in Mark, 16th chapter, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th verses, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
No matter who believeth, these signs, such as healing the sick, casting our devils, etc., should follow all that believe, whether male or female. He asked the Society if they could not see by this sweeping promise, that wherein they are ordained, if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them; and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on.
Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick he further remarked, there could be no evil in it, if God gave His sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration. (TPJS page 224)
Later in the same address we read:
President Smith then gave instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands, or the anointing with oil; and said it was according to revelation that the sick should be nursed with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy. Who are better qualified to administer than our faithful and zealous sisters, whose hearts are full of faith, tenderness, sympathy and compassion. No one. Said he was never placed in similar circumstances before, and never had given the same instruction; and closed his instructions by expressing his heartfelt satisfaction in improving this opportunity. (TPJS page 229)
Having recalled Joseph Smith’s teachings that the signs that follow those that believe do not require the priesthood but are available to both men and women, let us also recall his teachings that those signs DO require the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him; for the spirits might say unto him, as they did to the sons of Sceva: “Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who are ye?” It mattereth not whether we live long or short on the earth after we come to a knowledge of these principles and obey them unto the end. I know that all men will be damned if they do not come in the way which He hath opened, and this is the way marked out by the word of the Lord. (TPJS page 199)
[Note regarding the twisting of Joseph Smith’s words to argue that women were ordained to the priesthood in his day: We have come to use certain words in very specific ways, but they were not always as settled in their meaning in older days. Joseph Smith said here it was by this sweeping promise that the sister’s were ordained. That is what “wherein” means. “Could they not see by this sweeping promise wherein they were ordained” means “can’t you see by this promise which ordains you”. Using “wherein” means that it was bestowed on them by the promise. And to what does the promise ordain them? To all the signs that follow them that believe. He was saying that promise made by Christ gave them authority to heal in and of itself. But the priesthood is not bestowed by a promise. He was not saying they had been ordained to the priesthood. Now let’s recall the whole sentence: “He asked the Society if they could not see by this sweeping promise, that wherein they are ordained, if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them; and if the sisters should have faith to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on.” The statement “if it is the privilege of those set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them” refers to the authority bestowed by the Savior’s promise, not to being ordained to the priesthood, as that is the only authority he referred to previous to this in this paragraph. In the authority of the Savior’s promise the sisters found themselves “set apart to administer in that authority, which is conferred on them”. Referring again to the only authority he has mentioned here: the authority of the Savior’s promise. They were set apart from the world along with “all of those that believe” by that promise. That includes even children and indeed Melchizedek had signs follow him while he was still a child. And if, in the authority of that promise, which authority was conferred upon all to whom Christ’s words applied, they had faith to heal the sick, then let all hold their tongues and let everything roll on.

Now there would be a fuller meaning of that ordination when the temple was completed and sisters could be washed and annointed and participate in prayers for the sick in the temple. But it was not an ordination to the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood then any more than it is now.

Joseph Smith’s statement that “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order; that the Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be, until the Temple is completed, where places will be provided for the administration of the ordinances of the Priesthood” refers to prayers for those on the temple prayer roll which are done by both male and female.]

Our multitudes are silenced by the guilty feelings of a few

Christ speaks of those that love a family member more than him. He says such people are not worthy of him.

In these days our multitudes are silenced because to speak out would hurt some friend or family member. Imagine what would have happened if Lehi had been afraid to speak out because it would offend Laman and Lemuel. Or if Alma had been hesitant to speak out because of Corianton.

We must decide our love for the Lord and his truth is greater than our misplaced concern for the guilty feelings of friends and family. We are losing our country and society because we are more worried about offending our neighbor and our family member than we are worried about offending our God.

We must do better. We must decide that truth matters more to us than the guilty feelings of transgressors and apostates.

Be true to the revelations

Joseph Smith taught this as an important key: “do not betray the revelations of God, whether in Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come”.

I think there are a number of ways in which we are very fond of taking the revelations and adding personal footnotes and appendixes that come from our culture our personal inclinations and have absolutely no basis in the revelations or the scriptures.

One of these is in the various scriptures about judgment and damnation. If someone even reads one of these scriptures there are all sorts of ideas appended that are really nothing more nor less than non-scriptural alterations of God’s own revelations. We are offering our own translation of the scriptures. We have an article of faith that says that bible is the word of God insofar as it is translated correctly. Joseph Smith spoke of men altering the words of the prophets so that the bible text was changed to fit mens ideas without any authority.

We should not be guilty of doing the same thing ourselves when we teach from the scriptures.

For instance. Alma says that men will not be restored from wickedness to happiness. But in order to make a nicer sounding story and a better scripture we like to find all sorts of ifs, ands, and buts tot append to that teaching that have no basis in scripture whatsoever.

When we teach the scriptures, do we translate them according to our own prejudices and teach that instead.

Why can’t we just follow Amulek’s example. He said that men can’t be saved in their sins. He didn’t append a whole lot of expectations to that. Because he hadn’t the right to do so. Here are his words when Zeezrom challenged him for “commanding God” by stating what God would do at the judgment bar.

Alma 11:36 Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.
 37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

Note that Amulek says he isn’t commanding God by simply standing by God’s own revelations about salvation and judgement. Instead, he is being true to them by doing so. Amulek says “I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven;…Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.”

Now it must also be added that we are to teach by the Holy Ghost. We can speak as inspired by the Holy Ghost. The only way to understand the revelations we have been given is to gain more revelation. And the door to understanding is the door of revelation. After all, Amulek also says

Alma 11:21 And this Zeezrom began to question Amulek, saying: Will ye answer me a few questions which I shall ask you? Now Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good; therefore, he said unto Amulek: Will ye answer the questions which I shall put unto you?
 22 And Amulek said unto him: Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord. …

But there is a marvelous difference between teaching by the power of the Holy Ghost and simply altering the scriptures to fit our natural inclinations.

Feminism and pride

Ezra Taft Benson pointed out that one of the great messages of the Book of Mormon is a warning against pride. He pointed out that the scriptures state:

Moroni 8:27 … Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their
destruction except they should repent.

The Nephites did not repent and were destroyed. It was, as President Benson pointed out, their pride that destroyed them.

Rather than learning the lesson we ought we are teaching our daughters to be proud and our sons to support and endorse this pride. We are teaching it to them practically constantly. They turn on a movie and they see women and girls showing “attitude” toward men. A proud answer, a haughty answer, from a woman toward a man is almost always portrayed as a virtue in the woman who gave it.

Women are portrayed as smart and men as dumb buffoons. Women are frequently portrayed as powerful, and the men that accompany them are buffoons useful only for comic effect. This carried over to even the most ridiculous of cases, where women are constantly showing much greater physical prowess than men in television and movies. The male warrior may be tough, but the woman warrior is tougher.

How many commercials do we see portraying the smart woman and the clueless buffoon man? She knows he is a buffoon but tolerates his foolishness with knowing condescension.

How many different times do we have to see a man praise a women in movies or television and a woman give a haughty response about how she really is superior to him?

And our society treats this haughty attitude as a virtue. It constantly encourages women to be proud and haughty toward men.

And what are our boys learning from this. Heavenly Father gives boys a natural interest in leadership. He calls boys to lead his church. He sets the father as the head of the home. These aren’t arbitrary. They go with the nature of being a boy as much as nurturing children goes naturally with the nature of being a girl. But where are our boys left with this? The heroes on television aren’t boys. In order to promote the new equality with a heavy hand, our media constantly teaches boys that they are inferior to girls.

This is feminism. It is destructive pride pretending to be virtue. Women of the church who study the scriptures still laugh away the bits that don’t agree with feminism. They are proud. And they are even proud that they are proud.

Feminism is diabolical teaching.

It was pride that destroyed the Nephites. And it is our pride that is destroying our nation. We are teaching it ourselves. We are openly endorsing it and defending it.

Feminism is thinly masked pride. It is animosity at its core, which President Benson said was the root of pride. It is animosity which pits women against men and wives against husband. It strikes at the most sacred of human relationships, that of husband and wife, placing a wedge in a woman’s heart. Rather than teaching her that desires should be toward her husband as the scripture teaches. It teaches her that selfishness and pride are righteous, by calling them feminism. We endorse, defend, and openly teach pride and animosity toward men under the name of Feminism. In doing so we are teaching our posterity to choose destruction.

Can a branch of the church make laws not specified in any revelation.

Ah how I love Joseph Smith. I just read this quote from him:
“Can a branch of the Church make by-laws on the principle of
expediency, which are not specified in any revelation?
Answer: Yes, if they wish, they may make laws to stick their fingers into their eyes; but it is like the man who habituated himself to sticking his fingers into a knot-hole in a board partition every morning, until custom compelled him to do it; for having omitted it one morning he felt so curiously at the breakfast table, that he could not eat. He then bethought himself, went and put his finger into the knot-hole and returned with a good appetite, and ate a hearty breakfast.”

Short post – Can fame or good fortune bring joy like little children? Then why do we limit our children?

I do not believe fame, or good fortune has the power to please a soul like the smile of your own one year old child. How have so many of us been duped into delaying marriage and subsequently limiting our posterity? The great gift of a mortal body is its ability to marry and create a family of our own. It is the gift we won for our faithfulness in the premortal life, and in his jealousy (for Satan’s punishment is that he cannot have a body, he cannot experience marriage and family) the adversary loves to put our hearts on other treasures that moth eats and rust corrupts until we have moved on to the next life and can only look back with unimaginable regret at the past days of opportunity and only look forward with fear and trepidation that, having taken the gift so lightly in the days of probation it will not continue eternally.

Concerning near death experiences and other spurious prophets

Truth about life after death has an appointed means to come to man, and we really ought to know that. If they speak not according to the law and the testimony it is because there is no light in them. In case the referenced scripture isn’t clear enough, by saying the law and the testimony, it means that if they don’t come back testifying of the true church and God’s living prophets it is because what they are saying is not real revelation. And if it isn’t real revelation, then it isn’t real revelation.

No safety in rote quotations in place of the Holy Ghost

Those who want to turn gospel teaching into academic style teaching where quotations are the measure of truth instead of the Holy Ghost are in an interesting conundrum. They believe that by insisting on that they are offering safety. Interestingly, every one of the major Christian religions backs its doctrine with extensive quotations from such figures as Christ himself and the original twelve.

Without the Holy Ghost being the key to both learning and teaching, there is no safety in quotations no matter the source.

Any doctrine that casts out the Holy Ghost as the means by which we learn and by which we teach casts out the lifeblood of truth.

After all, can we gain a testimony except by revelation through the Holy Ghost? If beginning of the path is marked out by revelation, in the form of gaining a testimony, do we really believe that the path itself is to be traveled by some other means.

In D&C 50 we learn that gospel teaching is teaching by the Holy Ghost, where the learner is learning by the Holy Ghost. Interestingly, no mention of authoritative quotations is made.

If God’s description of how his gospel is to be taught in the last days requires the Holy Ghost but makes no mention of authoritative quotations, isn’t that enough of an authoritative quotation for us to throw out the requirement of authoritative quotations and replace with God’s own required method: that it be taught and received by the Holy Ghost.

Why don’t we believe D&C 98?

Why does nobody believe D&C 98? We read the scriptures in the new testament all the time as if we don’t have a section of the doctrine and covenants with Christ himself speaking that significantly alters the meaning of the relevant new testament verses. Why is that?

In the new testament there plenty of discussion about heaven and hell. When the vision of the degrees of glory came around it threw far more light on the topic and we have rightly incorporated this greater light and knowledge into our teaching and conversation. We speak of the celestial kingdom more than we use the term heaven. 

But with D&C 98 we haven’t taken the additional light and knowledge there and made it part of our understanding of what Christ requires of his followers. We still cite the new testament verses it enhances without so much as nod toward it.